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Anglican Communion calls for repentance over divisive 'missionary' bishops

Fri 06 Oct 2017
By Tola Mbakwe

The Anglican Communion has called for a “season of repentance and renewal" after people in several countries have become consecrated as Anglican bishops and started churches without the permission of the bishop in the diocese or province, but rather another bishop across the border.

At a press conference for the Communion's Primates' Meeting on Friday, Archbishop of Canterbury Most Rev Justin Welby said such cross-border intervention “breaks trust and weakens the communion”.

According to the communique for the Primates’ Meeting, the archbishops “recognised that there were opportunities for joint initiatives and mission partnerships for the benefit of the Gospel…”

However, Archbishop Justin added:  “The problem is where... one group subverts the efforts of another church group.

“Whether it’s us doing it to others or others doing it to us is irrelevant.

“Either way that is harmful to our partnership in mission and that is something that we all need to repent and seek renewal.

“Jesus created the Church to be one so that the world might know that he came from God… and that’s really crucial, and failure to do that is a cause for repentance."

Primates' Meeting Press Conference


The Anglican Communion discussed the difficulties of cross-border interventions during its meeting this week and Archbishop Justin added that they “don’t have a magic wand for it”.

While addressing the issue they reaffirmed the principles outlined in the Council of Nicaea, formed in 35 AD, that condemned such acts from bishops.           

Archbishop Justin refused to name people in particular who have become bishops without proper permission. However, in June he cited the Council of Nicaea when rebuking Rev Canon Andy Lines.

Rev Lines was consecrated as missionary bishop by GAFCON, a worldwide group of conservative Anglicans. It’s his responsibility to cater to disaffected Christians in Scotland, England and across Europe who are unhappy with a church’s teaching on issues such as sexuality.

The ordination came after the Scottish Episcopal Church decided to allow same-sex marriages.

However, Archbishop Justin said the subject of missionary bishops is just one area in which Anglicans will be called to seek repentance and renewal for ahead of the 2020 Lambeth Conference.



During the week long meeting that came to an end on Friday, the Primates spent the bulk of their time discussing issues such as climate change, human trafficking, the refugee crisis, persecution against Christians and violent conflict.

The Primates also heard about issues arising from living alongside those of other faiths in various provinces, and with that have announced the development of the Anglican Inter Faith Commission.

The press conference ended with Archbishop Justin, Most Rev Josiah Idwu-Fearon Secretary General of the Anglican Communion and Most Rev Jackson Sapit Primate of All Kenya talking about the vital role wives play in supporting bishop or archbishops.  

They said wives of leaders in many parts of the world are expected to step to a challenging role without any training or support.

Caroline Welby has spearheaded a new program called Women on the Front Lines to address the problem. The program combines spiritual, business and practical training to support wives of bishops and archbishops.  

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